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  • The Story of The Other Page

    Warren understood the importance of his Internet fan base and their activities, and rarely requested that information presented be modified or removed except in cases of gross inaccurracy. With this in mind, a short history of the Zevon online community is in order. All inaccuracies, omissions and blatant errors are mine, and I admit I am recalling most of this from memory.

    The first Zevon fan webpage was designed by the late Ashley Morris (the Unofficial Warren Zevon Page), an information technology professor who was employed at DePaul at the time of his death. It is likely his site was established by 1994, and operated in many ways as a modern blog. Ashley's personal observations were sprinkled throughout the site, and it included rare photographs (as Easter eggs), admonitions to record company executives, a discography with commentary and his own stories about Warren himself. Ashley himself was a friendly presence for other webspinners, assisting those new to Zevon's work and to Internet fanpage design in general, and his site acted as not only a welcoming place for fans, but also as one of the very few pages that featured Warren's work, period. Ashley's site is now defunct.

    To my knowledge, the second Zevon fanpage was the Warren Zevon Fan Page, and it was up by 1996. Its designer was Diane Berger, known among some in the Zevon community as Zevonfan1 (to distinguish her from Diane Cordes, Zevonfan2). Berger was a schoolteacher in West Texas and had followed Warren's career for years. Her page was a well-rounded resource for fans eager to research Warren, and included a biography and discography as well as the first outlet for fan fiction. The site grew to include concert reviews and a gallery of photogrpahs taken by fans (notably Lexi1997, whose work also graced the Other Page and warrenzevon.com).Her site, now defunct, was hosted on AOL.

    In 1997, Diane Cordes's site, Zevon Fan Expressions, was developed solely as a site reflecting creative works by fans. Most works had a Zevon-related focus, but was removed permanently by 2001 for reasons unexplained to this day. Materials located on that site were not placed elsewhere, to my knowledge.

    This site, the Warren Zevon Other Page, was founded in November 1998. Of the initial fan pages established before warrenzevon.com in 1999, this remains the only one left in existence. The Other Page was founded as an alternative resource to the other fan pages in existence. While it was clearly a fan site, its intent was to begin collecting reference materials and placing them in one spot. It did not include a discography or gallery, as other sites had already performed this task admirably. The Other Page began with a short biography, an FAQ and personal notes from the website designer, adding a list of definitions in response to hearing too many people mispronounce Warren's last name.

    Warrenzevon.com, the official Warren Zevon site, was the first site sponsored by a record label, and was first uploaded in late 1998-January 1999. Warren had a large amount of input on the site's content, and its initial design was constructed by his son, Jordan. The first objects presented on the site were seven MP3 snippets of demos from his then-upcoming album, Life'll Kill Ya and rare photographs showing Warren wearing glasses other than his traditional wire-rimmed frames. In early 1999, Jordan asked Zevon fans to share materials, links and information to help with the construction of the site. Warrenzevon.com remains active today, with relatively few changes made since 2004. Its current look and design - a grey background with black sans serif text, a plain text navigation bar and a large plain text name - has been in place since 2001. Previous incarnations showed a dark red background with a flaming text name, using the same font found on Warren's albums Warren Zevon through The Envoy.

    Other fan sites appeared, most between 1999 and 2002. Mr.NoBS collected bootleg MP3 files, almost all concert recordings. Ben, a Minnesota native, thoroughly covered Warren's performance at Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura's inauguration party in 1999. The Zevonista included a well-designed timeline covering Warren's output. Almost all appeared in response to Warren's release of the 2000 album Life'll Kill Ya, his first new album since 1995, which rejuvenated public interest in Warren's career. My Ride's Here, released in May 2002, did not lead to any significant new pages on Warren designed by fans.

    With Warren's mesothelioma diagnosis in 2002 and his death in 2003, a new slate of Zevon pages were started and abandoned, and most are untraceable. The older pages were also suffering; the Fan Page changed to the Fan Archive and posted much less frequent updates, and the death of Ashley Morris in 2008 led to the effective end of his page. The Other Page attempted to remain current, but by late 2007 the effort began to seem painfully futile. The site remained available, however, as a resource to others seeking introductory information, a role it fulfills to this day.

    The community, however, did not disperse. Warrenzevon.com began a fan-driven message board in 2003, and it attracted over 1400 active members by the middle of 2004. The board became the main point of interaction for most fans seeking a personal connection to others. The board presented opportunities for trading, rare memorabilia for sale or exchange and the first organized meeting of Zevon fans, Zevonathon, held in New Jersey in 2006 and hosted by catstone. Zevonathon II was held in San Leandro, California in 2007 and hosted by Worrier_King. Other Zevon gatherings have been held, but without the success of the first two meetings. The message board remains in place, and continues to be moderated by Lucy.

    It could also be said that the online Zevon fan community has completed its task to highlight the work of Warren Zevon. Hundreds of fact-based pages exist today, mostly combined with online stores (Amazon), labels (Rhino and New West Records) and periodicals (Rolling Stone). The role of the fan page may no longer retain the knowledge-base importance it once held, in light of the current ease of discovering Zevon related materials and connecting with fans. But the sites themselves continue to play a much-needed role in maintaining the community. Fans still turn to each other for information and honest opinions and the human kindness no corporate site can provide. Fan sites have created longtime friendships, long-lasting memories and not a few relationships. It should be noted that fan communities retain a certain regional flavor to them, and that fans still use message boards to plan physical meetings with one another. As long as humans continue to seek each other out and desire a shared connection through personal interest, there will be a need for the homespun, lovingly maintained site.